The department in an effort to promote active citizenry has partnered with Empowervate in a Programme that builds on learners agency and critical learning skills to bring about positive change in their schools and communities. The Programme involves learners working as a team and within the parameters of the constitution to address a particular social challenge identified by the school. This year included primary school teams for the first time. Hence the efforts of just over 4000 grade 10 and grade 7 learners from and all nine provinces will present their projects to improve their schools, their communities and their nation at the Youth Citizens Actions Programme (YCAP) National Championships from 24 to 26 July 2015 at SunWa River Lodge in Parys, Free State.
During Youth Month and Mandela Month, Provincial Showcase events took place throughout the country, starting in Eastern Cape and ending in Gauteng. The showcase and training Programme has assisted with the improvement of the quality of the projects, which has improved over the past six years. The participation of new and returning schools is commendable in this year's YCAP Programme.
Topics ranged from social to academic and environmental issues and the participants found creative and innovative solutions to address them. The YCAP Programme provides learners with skills and confidence to make positive changes in their schools and communities instead of feeling hopeless and powerless. The awards element acts an incentive and it serves to acknowledge the hard work all participants have put into their projects. The key elements that the adjudicators look for in a winning project are innovation, impact and sustainability of the project.
“YCAP is an annual programme through which learners from primary and high schools across the country create projects aimed at addressing issues which they have identified in their schools and communities. These issues range from poor academic performance to drug abuse, teen pregnancy and road safety campaigns,” explains Amanda Blankfield-Koseff, Founder and CEO of Empowervate, the NPO, which powers the YCAP programme.
The National Championships weekend will combine giving youth a platform to share their active citizenship projects – to help other schools to improve on similar issues they all face, as well as an opportunity for personal development and social cohesion.
The panel of judges included Justice Edwin Cameron from the Constitutional Court who gave an address and was one of the adjudicators of the Secondary school category.
Gauteng’s Silverton Primary school took the 1st place in the inaugural primary school category for creating a “Mad Geeks Club” to encourage more learning through peer-to-peer tutoring at their school.
The 6th annual YCAP national winner in the secondary category is Solomon Mahlangu High school from Eastern Cape; they tackled late coming at their school which help in increasing rate the schools pass rate.
The programme is sponsored by Deutsche Bank South Africa Foundation and UTi Mounties SA. Prizes included beanies, backpacks, golf shirts, and the highlights: new tablets, and access to an accredited Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint e-learning course for the whole school worth R1 million, sponsored by SpecCon and a R10,000 and R5000 cheques respectively, with prize giving events scheduled to take place at their schools in the next two months where their wishlist items will be handed over thanks to UTi Mounties SA.
The Director from the Social Cohesion and Gender Equity, Dr. Mannah enhanced the event with her presence. She thanked educators and parents who came all the way from the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal to show support to these learners. “When we listen to you, we have a hope that we will have a better South Africa”, she encouraged the pupils.
Melinda Ferguson gave an inspirational talk on the Sunday 26th July about her descent into drug hell in 1999 and how she used her inner resources to conquer her addiction and found her way into recovery and now leading a successful and healthy life. Following the talk there was a team building adventure activity for the group of 81 learners.
Empowervate Trust was established in 2013 to run YCAP, which was founded in 2009. Deutsche Bank South Africa Foundation is YCAP’s founding sponsor, since inception in 2009. In 2014 UTi SA Mounties Division came on board as a sponsor. The Department of Basic Education is the strategic and implementation partner since 2009, along with other non-profit organisations, partner NPO Heartlines and new partner International Youth Council of South Africa. UNISA is the pro bono research partner.
For more information:
Y-CAP: Amanda Blankfield-Koseff: 079 080 8474
DBE: Morongwa Thobakgale: 073 755 4851